1. What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
I have spent six years as a classroom volunteer, and as I observe board and district actions, I have a deeper understanding of how decisions directly affect students and staff. Also, my degree in business impresses on me a need for providing quality customer service to students, families, and community members while retaining and empowering highly competent employees. To do this, our district must be willing to ask hard questions, and I would welcome and encourage those conversations. Finally, my children have more years remaining in this district than any other candidate or current board member, which will bring greater balance and a more diverse perspective to the board.
2. How should the school board respond to the trend of decreasing enrollment in the district?
Our greatest assets are our students and families, and we must be intentional about meeting their needs. When families are excited about the schools their children attend, they tell others, and they give the district high reviews on school comparison websites like greatschools.org and schooldigger.com which will bring families to our community. To get serious about increasing enrollment, we must explore the needs of current and potential families. We need to create a unique identity for ourselves that will make us stand out. Providing an annual satisfaction survey to families, students, staff, and community members would help us strategically capitalize on strengths and identify areas of opportunity so we can become stronger and attract more students to our schools.
3. For years the district has been spending more than it takes in. It has now spent its fund balance below the level set by board policy and cannot continue deficit spending. What are your priorities in crafting a balanced budget?
The classroom must be the first priority. Quality teachers must be retained, and reasonable and fair class sizes must be maintained in all schools. We need to be intentional and creative about increasing enrollment, therefore increasing revenue. At the same time, the district must look at long-term spending and prioritize all remaining programs. Any programs that do not fit the plan of what is best for kids may be cut. It will be a difficult and sometimes painful process, but it must be done to ensure a future of excellence in this district.
4. How do you feel the district has carried through on the promises made when asking for the levy increase last year?
As an engaged parent who made phone calls, attended levy events, listened at board meetings, and read the literature that came out in the mail, I am surprised and disappointed at how extensive the cuts were after working so hard to pass the levy. We were told that the passage of the levy would not solve all the financial issues in the district, but it was not clear how painful the cuts would be. Some classrooms have 33-35 kids in the elementary and higher numbers in the secondary while support staff has been cut in most buildings. The board and administration were in a difficult position during this process, but it has had greater repercussions than anyone imagined. It is imperative that we restore trust with the community and do what is right for the kids.